The Comment That Wouldn't Leave Me Alone
A young married woman recently made a passing comment that's been floating around my mind a lot. I'm finding that happens often during this new stage of parenting. Someone will make an innocent comment and it leads me on a trail to figure out the best way to handle a problem I didn't even know I had.
"We're trying to figure out life together now, but still want to please our parents, too."
I have two married kids now. What does that comment look like in our relationship? Do they feel a similar pull? Do they feel like they are doing a juggling act between building a life together but trying to make sure Tom and I are pleased with them?
I know I could talk to them about this. I probably will. In the meantime, I think there is a reason this off hand comment won't leave me alone.
I've had to admit to myself that not only am I a super planner but a controlling momma at my core. What is a super planner? Well, I started planning for Christmas this year before Christmas had taken place last year.
I had in mind a picture of what Thanksgiving would look like this year and what Christmas could possibly be and in the name of being gut level honest with you, I have a goal for Christmas of 2018 already in mind as well. And that's only one example of how my mind works. I often find myself scheming and dreaming of new ways to build memories now that they are "grown and flown" as some put it.
That probably explains why an innocent comment made in passing hit my heart and won't leave me alone.
At every turn in this path of being a parent of adult children, God is helping me look long and hard at my character. My super planning was a strength when my kids were younger and we were trying to coordinate between our nuclear family of four, my extended family and Tom's extended family. I think God is tapping me on the shoulder now to nudge me to morph again on my journey through motherhood.
It's their turn to become the super planners. It's their turn to talk to each other and figure plans out. It's their turn to take the lead and it's my turn to embrace a supporting role.
That doesn't mean I won't express hopes and desires. It doesn't mean I won't throw out ideas about vacations I was thinking of. I hope that we can enjoy holidays and other times together as an extended family. As I interviewed parents several years ago, I saw that families handle holidays and vacations in many different ways. I don't believe that what works for one family should ever become the standard for what every family should do. The way I think about this may be totally opposite of what you believe is good or "right."
For me, the point is giving up control and deciding not to selfishly demand my needs be met. Being sensitive to this new stage in their lives and not being consumed by the new stage I find myself in. Learning to communicate hopes and desires, but not holding on to expectations that may be difficult for my kids to meet as they build their own families.
I want them to enjoy coming to our home and spending time together. I never want it to be something they "have" to do. I'm not sure how all this will work out over the years, but I'm glad that God is making me sensitive to this now.
God reminds me in his word to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others." (Philippians 2:3-4). It is interesting how this verse takes on an extended meaning for me now that I have married adult children.
As much as I want special family time with them, I have to remember that there are two other mothers involved that probably have similar feelings. I believe our kids are sensitive to all of this. I know they love us all. The young woman's comment makes total sense to me. Learning how to be married takes time and effort. Building new relationships with the family of your spouse takes time as well. Juggling it all might feel overwhelming at times. My goal is to take pressure off from now on.
Yes, I'm thankful to that young woman for making a simple comment. I'm also thankful that God helped me realize how much I needed to think about it. I think our family relationships will be better because of it.